Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri will not play in the Champions League on Tuesday. For fear of hostility Xherdan Shaqiri must not travel to the Champions League game to Belgrade.
It was certainly meant well, this travel ban, which Jürgen Klopp pronounced on Monday for his player Xherdan Shaqiri. He wanted to protect him from expected hostility in Belgrade. And Shaqiri himself could also understand the measure, said Klopp (although the Swiss had always stressed in the days before that it was no problem for him to play in Serbia).
The coach did not let him travel to the Champions League match of Liverpool against Red Star. Too large, Klopp appeared the danger that Shaqiri would have to answer in Belgrade Stadium for his double-headed eagle gesture at the World Cup as a kind of people’s court. “We read the speculation and heard what kind of reception Shaqiri could get,” Klopp said on the club’s website. And although they did not know what exactly could happen, they wanted to focus one hundred percent on football and not have to think about anything else.
From Klopp’s point of view that is to be understood. Preferably, as a precaution, refrain from someone who could cause unrest in the cabin. Especially since Shaqiri is not his most important player and is not indispensable. But there is also another view on Klopp’s measure.
Because the coach also said that Liverpool associates with Shaqiris staying away no “political message, not at all.” But basically that’s exactly what it is: very real Liverpool Realpolitik. For sporting reasons that would have spoken against Shaqiri, there was not, just political or ethnic: Shaqiris Kosovar descent and the history of the World Cup in Russia. Especially this case shows again that there are no sharp boundaries between football and politics; sometimes even so confusing that an English club is affected by a conflict that takes place in the Balkans, because a Swiss national player in Russia has shown an Albanian cheering gesture. That can overwhelm a football club.
“Shaqiri is our player, we love him, and he will play for us often, but not on Tuesday,” said Klopp. He could also have thought up an injury lie for Shaqiri, a tactical blight as a diplomatic emergency solution. This would have begotten of little style. But he could have avoided all these questions, which are now being put rightly, because the maneuver looks like a downfall: a downfall before those who have long made mood. Shortly after the group draw, Zvezdan Terzic, director general of Red Star, said Shaqiri would be under “incredible psychological pressure” when he embarked on the trip to Belgrade. That almost sounded like a threat, but it was not meant that way. Because Terzic also said, “Red Star will do anything to make Shaqiri feel that he is here for football. It is our duty to protect him in unwanted situations. Let us be good hosts. »
Two weeks ago, Serbian spectators at Anfield in Liverpool had violently insulted and insulted Shaqiri during the match. And the message, which Klopp unwillingly sends along, is this: If only enough pressure is exerted, one will eventually be impressed and give way. And this in Europe, in the most important football competition, in 2018. In the end, Klopp also allows the fear-makers to influence the rules and influence who is in Liverpool’s squad and who is not.
On Klopp’s planet influences politics
On Monday evening Klopp gave a press conference in Belgrade and was again asked if Shaqiri had accepted the decision. His players have always done that, Klopp said. Just be here to play football. After all, he still said, “Politics always affects life, at least on the planet I live on.” That’s more than many sports officials would ever admit.